With the rising cost of living becoming a more prevalent problem in Malaysia, new parents are feeling the heat as the cost of acquiring baby products leaves dents in their finances. This was a problem that the founders of The Manja Company saw, so…
They set out to create affordable baby products for young families and mothers who may struggle to afford more expensive, branded ones. They are truly a company that will bring great help to the community.
Here at Sterrific, we have managed to conduct an interview with the two founders of Manja Company, Zubaidah Eusoff and Nur Nadiah Ab Razak. Here is what they had to say about their journey with The Manja Company.
Tell us about yourself?
We are a home grown local brand and we’ve just been established about a year now, and we sell awesome baby products! But primarily we sell diapers, called Nappies by The Manja Company.
We’re actually quite new to the scene and we are Malaysian-made, so we have a factory based here in the country. We aim to give our consumers really good quality baby products at a very affordable price.
What was the story?
At first, we didn’t think we would actually set up a company by ourselves because back then I was a teacher at a primary school, but I resigned because I want to focus more on my family. As a mum of two at that time, I realized that we had to pay a lot to raise a family of our own.
So I gathered up my friends to come up with a plan.
We are actually high-school friends and every single time we meet up, she would tell us about how things are rather expensive now, so we thought, why don’t we do something about it? Come up with a way to improve costs of living for all Malaysians altogether?
Especially for mothers like myself. When I resigned, I was mostly dependent on my husband, so we thought, “OK, what are we going to do about this? What can help the other mothers as well?” So we thought of something that mothers, especially new ones will need, which is diapers!
So we decided to come up with our own brand, with our own diapers for babies. We focused on minimalist designs, keeping it simple with the colours blue and white; we are not really fans of cartoon prints on diapers. Why not keep it simple? Just a basic clean white nappy. That is how we got to developing them. We started in October of last year, sales-wise.
Yes, sales-wise, we started at the end of October last year to be specific, but we have been working on this idea for two and a half years, since 2016. On the official launch day, we had already made our first sale, so it shows that the idea works! We now know that people are looking for cheaper and more affordable products.
Diapers are always in demand, they are indispensable for parents with babies, they need diapers.
You could always opt for cotton diapers, but our generation these days would not have the time to constantly wash cotton diapers, so we are still dependent on disposable ones. Also cotton diapers are not very practical, so that is why we stick to the disposable ones.
Our selling point is that our product is Malaysian made, it is very affordable, our designs are even done by a local designer, my sister, Zuliana Eusoff!
She did the logo for us and we chose the colours. We are not selling our products just for profit, we put a lot of love and care into crafting them. We tested them out on my own children, so they have been wearing our diapers for quite awhile now. My youngest son has been wearing our Nappies since he was born!
People usually think that cheaper things are not good, but we have proven them wrong as we sold about 3000 packs, in just under a year!
What were the initial problems?
One of the major problems was finding the right supplier. In Malaysia there are many factories which produce baby diapers, but finding the right one that can fit into our ideology and concept is very difficult.
When we met suppliers in the past, they were very skeptical, because we are young. Because the creation of diapers is not simple, you need to know where you can get the raw materials, what is the engineering process of producing these diapers, and so on.So there were people who tried to scare us off by not telling the truth about the costs. A lot of research is needed, that is why the development of our company’s concept took two years.
So, there were a lot of older individuals who were trying to discourage us from doing this. Saying things along the lines of “The diaper industry is a cut-throat industry,” or “You’re going to lose out to the other bigger brands,” and other negative sayings that tried to prevent us from doing it.
They were always very skeptical about our selling method, which is online, because they always think that diapers need to be stocked at retailers.
Like the traditional way, on the shelves.
Do people buy your product online?
So, when we told people we wanted to sell online, they would say that it won’t work because “Who would buy them online?” But, Alhamdulilah (Thank God), we have proven them wrong and we are quite happy that this actually worked out better than we expected.
It just proves that e-commerce is the way to go now! Especially in Malaysia.We did a survey and we found out that a huge number of our customers discovered us through social media and recommendations through friends through online means, like sharing our social media links with others.
But selling online brings one issue, customers are not able to see the product in real life and actually get a feel for it themselves, so we came up with the idea of selling trial packs. So to get trial packs, you can purchase them at only RM3 a pack.
What is the Purpose of your Trial Packs?
So rather than paying RM22 or RM28 for the first pack you purchase, you can pay RM3 for the trial pack if you want to have a try of our Nappies first.
So people would buy this first and test it out on their babies, to see whether it is suitable. Most of them return, convinced, and go on to buy our full packs.
Surprisingly, we sell a lot of S sizes, so there are a lot of tiny babies out there! Now, we have got mums posting photos online of their hospital bags containing our Nappies. So it is good to see that mothers trust us to be the first diaper brand for their baby.
What problems do you face now?
A lot of people compare us to major brands.
Of course people will, but when we created our product, we ensured that the quality is just as good. But skepticism is always there, that’s why we always encourage people to try out our trial packs first.
With parenting, everything is trial and error. For me as a parent, we tried the more expensive, higher-end brands on my two elder children, but it mostly caused irritation to them. So, you can’t really say that the more expensive something is, the better. You have to try first and see whether it will suit your child.
When we approach people to try out our diapers, we encourage them to leave proper and honest reviews. This is because when you sugarcoat things, other people might have a different expectation, they might have over expectations.
But so far, Alhamdullilah (Thank God), no one has come back to return our product because they found it unsuitable.
Delivery of Products
Because we sell our products online and use a courier company to send out our products, sometimes it is out of our control when they themselves could not send it on time. Some of our customers have asked us about the late delivery, we do apologise for this, but in most cases, we have already sent it on time.
So it is out of our control. If we can give one tip to our customers in regards to this issue, do order when you notice that the diapers are about half a pack left. Please do not order new products from us when you are in need of them immediately, as the delivery will not be instant as it is controlled by the courier service.
Is Social Media and Word of Mouth Your Method of Marketing?
Yes! Definitely! Because we have regular individuals giving honest reviews of the diapers, it works. So that’s why we don’t go for paid reviews, we want only honest reviews that can inform others about our Nappies.
But whatever it is, rest assured that we are very honest about what we do — we are not doing it just for the money. Our main goal is to give back to the community. We want to help out mothers like myself, especially those with several children, and to get people to support local initiatives and Malaysian-made products.
Any Words of Advice for New Business Owners?
Hati kena kental, You need to be brave. But seriously, frankly speaking, if you don’t have a good support system, you will just be crumbled by those who say negative things towards you.
You see when we first started, we have not even introduced the idea and we haven’t even approached the market yet, the one who turned us down was a potential supplier, directly to our face. We met up with them and then they looked at us being young and asked “Why are you doing this?” or “It’s a waste of time”. They didn’t even have the courtesy to look at our faces when they said that, let alone, advising us politely.
So, if you are an entrepreneur and you are trying to create your own start up, if you don’t think you have the guts to face these kind of people, buckle up.
You need to have a good support system and believe in your dreams.
Yeah, and as lady entrepreneurs or mum entrepreneurs, our husbands are very, very supportive and understanding emotionally. When things go wrong, our husbands were always motivating us, saying that this problem is just one small hurdle that you need to get over.
When I was pregnant last year, I was still doing a lot of work, like packing and marketing. It was very tiring. I even ended up in hospital because of work pressure. But that is the entrepreneurial journey and we are still on it, and very happy.
So overall, if you want to be an entrepreneur, what we can say is that you have to be very patient, hardworking and determined to reach your goal, because it’s not easy. It’s a lot of hard work.
Of course, you will have disagreements from time to time, as people will have their own opinions and creative differences, but you have to be able to work it out in a calm manner. So, be prepared for the roller coaster ride, you can do it!
And that was Zubaidah Eusoff and Nur Nadiah Ab Razak talking about their lovely enterprise, The Manja Company and their journey with it this past year. A sincere thank you to them from Sterrific!
If you have taken an interest in their products, do be sure to check out their website for more information: https://www.themanjaco.com/
And do check out their Instagram too: https://www.instagram.com/themanjacompany/
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